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Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18 
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Post Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Mark Twain

Chapters 13 - 18



Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:10 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
This is where we see more realization on Huck's part that Jim is a human being with same feelings as anyone else. Playing Tom Sawyer-like tricks on him, as Huck does when he claims Jim dreamed the crisis where the two separate, is simply cruel, as Huck realizes when Jim tells him he knows Huck is making fun of him. Then Huck's moral crisis deepens, as he begins to realize his responsibility in helping a piece of another's property escape to freedom. The irony that is so obvious and powerful is that the reader knows that Huck's "crime" is moral beyond question, yet to Huck it means that he's the lowest sort of thief. Huck resolves to make right with his conscience and go to shore to tell someone he has a runaway slave. When it comes to the point, though, he can't do it. Jim pays him tribute as the truest friend a man ever had, as Huck pulls away from the raft, and so when Huck meets two men in a boat, he can't betray Jim and confabulates to prevent the two men from approaching the raft in their boat.

We get into the curious chapters on the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords in this section. We aren't given any perspective on this senseless feud, which is typical for the book. Huck, after all, is only 13 and doesn't yet have the experience which he would need to form judgments about how people act. What Twain means to say through this episode isn't explicit, but it's clear that he's mocking the absurdity of human behavior. Here is a feud in which the two sides don't even know what their grievance against the other side is about. They don't even obviously hate the other side but respect them for their bravery, as Buck says to Huck. The scene Huck witnesses at the end is horrific, actually, but again Huck's stoicism prevails. Covering his dead friend on the riverbank, he comments laconically and moves on. It's never in doubt that Huck has deep feelings, but his task really is survival and he can't afford to break down.


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Last edited by DWill on Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:23 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
Oh good . . . you've answered one of my questions - how old is Huck? He's 13 . . . ok - got it.



Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:57 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
For some reason I didn't catch his age either. Thank you.



Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:18 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
Quote:
This is where we see more realization on Huck's part that Jim is a human being with same feelings as anyone else. Playing Tom Sawyer-like tricks on him, as Huck does when he claims Jim dreamed the crisis where the two separate, is simply cruel, as Huck realizes when Jim tells him he knows Huck is making fun of him.

I suspect Mark Twain was playing with the racial attitudes of his time in this section. At one point Huck actually convinces Jim their separation during the fog was a dream. Jim even "terprets" warning symbols in the dream. Twain probably hoodwinked many of his contemporary readers as they blindly accept and laugh at Jim's extreme gullibility. But then Twain flips this around as Jim figures out Huck's game and calls him trash for putting "dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed". Twain rubs it in as Huck admits how bad this made him feel and says "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a (n-word)" by apologizing.

A black man figuring out he had been fooled? A black man calling a white boy trash? A white boy apologizing to a black man? I expect these were shocking attitudes at the time the book was published and long afterwards...



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 13-18
Just how Twain's portrait of Jim fit in with public thinking about race would be a subject of research. The book was published in 1884 after a seven-year period of composition. That means that when Twain began it, Reconstruction was just ending, and the post-war system of racial segregation was starting to be implemented. I don't have the background to say to what extent Twain was challenging stereotypes of the day. He doesn't come at the subject with a full-on assault, I think that can be said. His stance seems to be ambiguous to a degree. He wasn't a crusading type of author. I think he did invest Jim with qualities of the minstrel show stereotype, partly for the entertainment of his audience. There isn't a reason why Jim had to be superstitious, undignified, and rather childlike in some ways. Of course Twain does show the reader how fully human he is, but that is after all only what we expect as a minimum..


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Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:07 am
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